When will they ever learn? For the second time this morning, a female sparrow flew beak-first right into our west-facing, floor-to-ceiling windows. BANG! In the kitchen when the crash occurred, I walked rapidly to the family room windows and witnessed the poor creature flailing her wings while lying sideways on the deck. Should I go out and end her misery? I hate to watch creatures suffer. I waited a few moments and saw the sparrow become motionless, eyes closed tight. Death. How I hate it.
I tried to put myself into her little bird brain prior to collision. Was she enjoying her freedom, flying everywhere she wanted? Probably. Was she aware that her flight patterns had limits and that challenging those limits might end in a huge headache, if not her demise? Probably not. Nevertheless, she discovered the reality of restricted airspace, like so many others of her species had, and the consequences for testing the limits were costly. Those who had challenged the glass before her were decaying somewhere in the field where they had been thrown. Maybe others had survived but were living somewhere with a broken leg or some other permanent damage not quite severe enough to kill. Living in the country, one becomes accustomed to seeing not-quite-whole animals that beat the death sentence but breathe every breath with a painful awareness—they are no longer what they once were. Wholeness will no longer be theirs.
Being the animal lover that I am, I felt sorry for the latest casualty caused by an apparently oblivious attempt to by-pass a sky block. Where is air traffic control when you need them?! I wished she had heeded the wooden warnings surrounding the clear glass hazard, hardly unnoticeable. The biggest—a wooden cross, two stories tall—can be seen 40 acres away on the road to the west of our house. Whatever she was thinking—or not thinking—there she lay, dead from one directional decision. Or was she?
Returning to the kitchen after my pondering, I asked our thirteen year old son Nick to harvest the tomatoes growing in the raised beds. Seconds after stepping onto the deck, he returned to inform me that a bird was sitting on the deck, seemingly unable to fly. COULD IT BE?! Sure enough, as I approached the western windows, I could see the sparrow I left for dead now sitting up with eyes wide open. Wow! She was one of the lucky ones! Unlike her feathered friend that lay just a few feet away, already in rigor mortis, this sparrow had only been stunned. She sat still, with feathers puffed, waiting for full recovery before taking flight. Nick and I gave her respectful space to regain her capacities and I prayed that one of our barn cats wouldn’t find her. Wounded creatures are vulnerable to further wounding.
A short time later, Miss Sparrow completed her pre-flight check. Wings? Intact. Wheels? Stable. Engine? Revved and ready. Pilot? Good to go. Clear for take-off. Up and away she flew, out of sight. I was happy. I love life!
So what does Miss Sparrow have to teach me today about life?
Sometimes we humans make bird-brained decisions. We fail to recognize that there is a sovereign God who has ordered the universe and given us directions on how to live in it successfully. He gives us freedom to fly but there are limits. Disregard His limits, slam head-on into reality. After the crash, when we’re broken in pieces, perhaps we’ll seek Him for future directives. If not, we’ll take off again and again, flying around on our whims, risking repeated collisions with reality and costlier consequences—broken relationships, broken bodies, broken hearts. Is it worth the gamble?
I’m sure God looks upon us with pity when we crash our lives. He certainly wants to heal us and help us fly properly. If only we would listen to God’s warnings! Just like the wooden cross beam was there for the sparrow, the crucifixion cross is there for all of us. The one who hung on it showed us how to live and His instructions are recorded in a flight manual. If only we would live life His way by coming to Him, letting Him save us from destructive selves, and asking Him to help us fly through our days. What needless suffering we could avoid. Would there still be pain? Yes. But suffering because we live in a fallen world with fallen people brings enough pain without us heaping more upon ourselves by refusing to live life God’s way.
God cares for even the sparrows. But there’s not much He can do when sparrows insist on hurling themselves through glass walls and into places they were not meant to fly. Thankfully, when we act like sparrows, crash into reality, knock ourselves out, come to our senses, and send out a distressed cry for help, we discover our Creator and Father right by our side, already binding our wounds and filling our aching souls with Himself. Once we experience grace like that—love like that—healing like that—our desire to fly into restricted air space lessens. We become content to stay where we belong—with Him—yearning, finally, to do life His way with Him right by our side, breathing His life into and through us, strengthening our fragile wings. It is then that the slight sparrow of our soul discovers that we’ve become eagles. It is then that we finally, joyfully, start to soar like never before. Oh, happy day for our Father God as He sees the crown of His creation flying free and high.
Your statutes are forever right; give me understanding that I may live.
Do you not know? Have your not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.